Seven Finger Typist


One of the things I attempt to convey during my safety talks is that an injury impacts you in many ways. It isn’t just the injuries where your life is in peril that impact you, but surprisingly an injury doesn’t need to be all that significant to change the way we function.

After my injury I was unsure of a lot of things. Uncertainty shrouded most of my thoughts. Once in a while I’d have a thought and realize that I could no longer do something, or that I was going to have to consider how to adapt. Initially I really had no idea how well my hand would heal, and if it did how well it would function.

As a management consultant I rely on my keyboarding skills to create documents for my clients. I’d taken typing in High School (on an actual typewriter), but never really honed my keyboarding skills until I attended University. It was out of necessity, but continued practice and actually even taught keyboarding skills which made me fairly efficient at about 50 words per minute (certainly not a speed freak, but respectable). I wasn’t sure how the absence of fingers and their varying lengths would work for keyboarding. I thought I may have to become a left handed typist.

One of my co-workers suggested I should learn a system called “Dragon Dictate”. It’s a pretty cool technology that allows you to talk to your computer and your computer does the typing for you. It sounded like a great idea! After I installed Dragon Dictate “I was ready to doe”, scratch that, “I was ready to no”, scratch that, “I was ready to go”. Hmmm … I don’t think I mumble, but the system was having issues picking my voice up clearly and often I’d have to say “scratch that” so it would ignore the last thing “it thought” it heard me say. It was clear that it was going to take practice to learn to use the software. Perhaps the tougher thing to adjust to was having to say your thoughts out loud before they were complete.

While I was recovering, my occupational therapist encouraged me to use my hand for typing since it is a somewhat light activity, and psychologically it was also good to try to get back to normal. When I first began typing I didn’t use my middle finger since they had reconstructed the knuckle and it was still quite painful. My pointer finger was too short to use because my middle finger would already be connecting with a key by the time my pointer finger touched. My ring finger is way too short and using it really tires out my forearm. Well that left my pinky and in order to use it I moved my hand more vertical and bent my finger somewhat to be able to see what keys I was pressing … when I started typing I used my left hand and the pinky of my right hand.

Over time my typing skills have improved and now I use my middle finger (since it sticks out so far), but even now large amounts of typing causes a fair ache to my middle joint. The result is far less than 50 wpm, but I’d say I’m doing fairly well as a 7-fingered typist … actually much better than a 2-finger typist. Besides typing is far less annoying than saying the same sentence so many times. Scratch that. More productive than saying the same sentence so many times 😉

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